Thursday, February 12, 2009

Complete Streets Coalition Storms State Capitol: SB 735 Awaits Support

Dozens of pedestrian, transit, bicycle and public health activists, including some who helped pass the New Haven Complete Streets Legislation a few months ago, stormed the State Capitol yesterday for a legislative reception. Reporting from the New Haven Independent here:

A few of the proposed pieces of legislation are listed below, some just placeholders. This is certainly not a comprehensive list of all of the proposals or pieces of legislation related to complete streets; although the first bill (SB 735) is likely to become comprehensive legislation containing some of the other pieces.

1. (Updated 3/06/09) SB 735: AN ACT IMPROVING BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN ACCESS: This is in the transportation committee, and originally sponsored by Rep. Kehoe. The two committee co-chairs are both strong supporters. This bill may eventually incorporate some points in the other bills listed here. Key inclusions are 1. Complete Streets (required accommodation for all users regardless of ability/disability/mode), 2. Creation of a permanent State Bicycle/Pedestrian Advisory Committee, 3. Shifting transportation funds to programs that improve biking and walking, such as safe routes to transit, safe routes for seniors, etc. Depending on the amount of citizen pressure at the General Assembly, other proposals may make it into the SB 735 bill, e.g., institution of bicycle education as part of physical education in the state's schools, requirements that walkability be addressed during the planning phase of school construction projects, and a "Vulnerable User of the Right of Way" law. To learn more, check back for details or join the CT Livable Streets Campaign, which is a newly-created group helping to coordinate statewide advocacy this year.

2. HB 5522 (Villano) AN ACT REQUIRING THE ENACTMENT OF A CONNECTICUT"LIVABLE STREETS" PROGRAM. "That the general statutes be amended to require Connecticut to implement a "Livable Streets" program utilizing "red light" cameras at locations having traffic lights in order to improve safe access to all street uses, including motor vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists, by reducing traffic speed and various traffic violations."

3. HB 5649 (Hennessy) AN ACT CONCERNING THE DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION OFARTERIAL ROADS AND MAJOR STREETS.:"That the general statutes be amended to provide that whenever an arterial road or major street is constructed or rebuilt within the state of Connecticut, the roadway shall be designed to safely accommodate the needs of pedestrians, bicyclists and transit users regardless of age or ability; that exceptions to this requirement shall be made when appropriate."

4. HB 5640 (Hennessy) AN ACT CONCERNING THE IMPROVEMENT OF PUBLICACCESS TO TRANSIT STOPS.: "That no less than 5% of any federal economic recovery funds received by the state of Connecticut for highway purposes shall be used to improve pedestrian access to transit stops and that no less than 1% of the state highway budget shall be allocated to improve such access in each state fiscal year thereafter."

5. HB 6227 (Dillon, Walker, Harp) AN ACT CONCERNING THE SAFETY OF WHALEY AVENUE IN NEW HAVEN. "That the Department of Transportation shall monitor the safety of Whaley Avenue in New Haven and shall report its findings and recommendations, including safety measures contained in current and future Whaley Avenue construction projects, to the General Assembly, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, not later than February 1, 2010."

6. HB 6069 (Dillon) AN ACT CONCERNING TRAFFIC CALMING. "That the Department of Transportation shall incorporate traffic calming measures in design and construction in areas of urban traffic."

7. HB 6017 (Kehoe) AN ACT CONCERNING THE ADDITION OF CERTAIN CONSIDERATIONS DURING THE PLANNING PHASE OF SCHOOL CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS. "That chapter 173 of the general statutes be amended to require that local and regional boards of education to address walkability and bikeability issues during the planning phase of school construction projects."

If you haven't yet contacted your state representative and state senator to inquire about their views on this legislation, please do so in the very near future. The group will also need to lobby Governor Rell if the legislation moves forward.

Update 7/9/09: Updates on the legislation are available in this month's NHSS Coalition Newsletter.

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